The title has nothing to do to anyone living or dead in any forms, i.e. , in person or media in films/short films/ stories or imagination of any person. Also the title doesn’t emulate any previous occurrences of the name in any forms as mentioned above. This story is a work of fiction. The characters do exist, but the events only in the mind of the author and now on this blog. Any resemblance to the event in reality is purely coincidental. This story is dedicated to many fun bike rides that I have shared with Charlie, who made it possible with his presence to participate.
I switched the ignition to “on”. my right hand thumb automatically pressed the button and the bike shook vigorously to a start. It was a Sunday evening and it was customary of me and Charlie to get going. I wore my helmet and rode down to Charlie’s house in Ellaiamman Koil street. We have been childhood friends and to be chronologically correct, probably since, June 1997. The prominent thing we had in common were MOTORBIKES and HEAVY METAL. Charlie has always been part of many of my most memorable bike rides. (https://kattankaapi.wordpress.com/2006/04/16/10/)
If you have lived in Madras a.k.a Chennai, for over a decade, you will appreciate the fact that the best ride/ drive is on the East Coast Road(ECR), of course it has its own risks and thrills for varying reasons and situations. Ever since I got my 180cc mean machine (to be honest it wasn’t that mean until I got it pimped up later), we have gone for rides on ECR towards Mahabs. My bike was hardly 6 month old machine (I find it funny to call it mean machine any more). Also if you lived in Madras, you also will accept the fact that we lot on the bikes are bit crazy, we all think we are bike racers from MotoGP. In fact we lot are under greater risk with life than teh lot from MotoGP as we race not in tracks but on roads dodging cars, buses, lorries, bicyclist and the most dangerous vehicles on two legs, yes indeed, I meant the pedestrians.
I reached his apartments and turned into the drive way, also its customary of me to rev up my engine as I entered his ground floor parking as that will let Charlie know I have come and he would then come down. As usual wearing his helmet and with a big smile, Charlie asked, ” What ra Chandu, are we ready to go?”. I Replied, ” Ya da Charlie”. Charlie looked at my right hand and he asked, ” Enna Machi, Looks like you got a new watch”. I replied, “Ya da, its kinda special with some crazy functions. I will explain it to you as we make a pit stop.”
He sat and made sure he was comfortable. I rode off his drive honking as his driveway led onto the street quite blindly. The moment we hit ECR until we finish our one way journey, both never uttered a word. We listen to the wind and the song of the engine. It was also notable that we never had to tell each other the duties of the pillion. When I ducked down, he did as well. We generally do that on the Muthukkadu Lake Bridge. And we are also aware of all the Police check-posts, as we would accordingly decelerate to maintain the speed limits. Trust me those days speeding on ECR was more annoying than dangerous. Annoying because you don’t want your ride to be cut short by nagging Policemen, who would make all attempts to milk some currency out of you. That was precisely what happened on that day. We were waved off the road by a Police constable and that was when both of us uttered, “SHIT”, at each other in about fifteen minutes into the ride. Our excitement was cut short, like that of a dog whose is hit by a stone, while attempting to pee on the Light posts, by some brats. We disembarked and I pulled out all the documents, Registration Certificate, Life tax, Insurance and my license. Charlie and myself then walked towards the inspector who was seated. As we approached him, we could smell alcohol in the air, and I thought to myself, “What can be worse for a dog than being hit while peeing?… mmmm… Well it can be worse if the dog was hit in the right wrong spot…”
And so it was for us, A drunk Police Inspector. I looked at him in disgust because, he was drunk on duty and he was improperly dressed, as though he was in his bedroom. I was praying that some higher authority came and saw his physical state. He checked our documents and he smirked. I reckoned it was because he had to let us go. I was proved wrong instantly. The drunk inspector spoke as though he was a two year old learning how to talk. The inspector said, ” All documents are fine except one, which is missing”, and he smiled. I asked him, ” But Sir, I am not aware of any other document”. He replied, ” Of course you aren’t, else you would have definitely furnished.”
This sarcasm wound us up but I told myself, “don’t mess with people working for Police”. I bet Charlie would have said that to himself as well. We looked around and saw it was just us he had stopped to check and there was another constable, who was standing like a wall, unmoved. The silence for a minute was disturbing as it aggravated tension in the air. I politely asked , ” Sir, could you please tell me about the missing document?”. He looked at me, and then I realised that he was asleep between the time he gave us the last reply and me asking him about the document. His eyes were bloodshot. I thought, ” He must be a drunkard”. He smiled again and asked me authoritatively, ” Where is the Emission Certificate”.
That question tested my patience a great deal. I thought to my self, “Who the fuck is he? Is he the R.T.O? “. I had my reasons to be agitated as my bike was just 6 months old and it was a four stroke. As per the law all four stroke bikes don’t need a Emission Certificate until the bike is a year old. I gathered some politeness and asked him, ” But sir, my bike is only 6 months old and its a 4 stroke. Do I still have to produce a emission certificate?”. He replied, sleepily, “yaaaaaaa” and continues to yawn opening his mouth wide like a lazy donkey.
The constable who was watching and listening this conversation gestured us to go over to him. We walked up to him and listened to him say in soft tone, ” Sir is expecting some thing, as the festival is approaching. Just give it to him and leave. He is drunk and you don’t want to mess around.” We replied in unison, “But Sir, we don’t carry any money, we are college students.” And we looked at each other. We tried our best to save a smile, which would have blown away our lies. We weren’t college students any more. The constable shrugged indicating he was helpless. We went back to the inspector, who was awake now, and I assumed the alcohol in his blood is wearing out. We explained to him that we were college students and we didn’t have anything on us. He simply refused to listen. Then we thought, we will try and use some old sentiment trick, it was worth a try, especially on a drunk Policeman. We tried explaining to him saying please consider us as you brothers and let us go. After about five minutes of pleading he reached for his trouser pocket, and we took a step back, not knowing what to expect. He pulled out a Hundred Rupee note, and I thought he was indicating he needed Hundred Rupees. I jumped the gun, and said to him, ” Sir, I am sorry, we dont have any money on us.”
He turned to us and said, ” Since you both told me to consider you as my brother, I do so now, and here take the money and go feast on biriyani”. I saw Charlie’s eye gleam at the sight of currency and the words biriyani. He quickly whispered to me, ” Machi lets take it and run away”. I whispered back, ” Dai, we cant take money from a policeman and that too a drunk one and get away with that.” We swallowed the laughs meant to enjoy the lighter moment of life we just had. We tried it hard, and trust me, we found it hard to give him back the money he gave us to feast on biriyani. His intentions were clear. He would take back the money if we put an equal share on our behalf and we were adamant in not committing that act. We tried for about fifteen minutes, and felt the irony playing upon us, which being, pleading a drunk police officer to reclaim the hundred rupee note that he thrust upon us for a treat. I was tired of this whole situation now. I pulled Charlie aside as I saw frustration build up. I told him of my new watch he had spotted earlier. He looked at me and exclaimed, “Dai cant you realise the intensity of our situation? why on earth would you want to tell me this now? Do you want that drunkard to plunder it from you?”. I smiled at his questions and Charlie was burning red. When I explained to him, he couldn’t believe it. It was Charlie, who came up with the novel idea. It was a definite yes from me.
We finished chalking our plan in through our mumbles. Meanwhile another unlucky fellow biker was taken off the road by the constable. That moment was the moment of oasis. We let a sigh of relief for having company in the distress. The constable came hurriedly up to us, and that worried me. He came and whispered to us, “You both should leave now. take you bike and push it for about few yards and then start and leave without looking back”. He continued, ” The inspector has had a proper catch, this guy has no license and no documents also he claims to be the son of a prominent official who doesn’t want to answer the son’s distress call.” We looked at each other, and knew this was the perfect situation. As we were told, we pushed the damn bike, it was bloody heavy, for a bit and turned into a side road away from the check-post’s visibility. We had a quick laugh and I got into action. I tip toed towards the check-post, and heard how the drunkard inspector was giving a generous shower of verbal abuses to the constable who let us go. He seemed to have drunk more, I saw a near empty bottle of liquor on his table. I walked up to him. I wanted to say “shhh”, to myself. I could hear my heart beat. I was never so mischievous ever in my life. But I gained courage by telling myself that I was morally correct in doing so. And with that I let out a slap, which was more of a thud on the drunkard’s face. I gave him another two. Poor fellow, all he knew was pain from the slaps. The constable must have thought that the inspector has gone mad.
I went next to Charlie and put my hand on his shoulder, he fell off the bike in shock. I revealed myself and stood smiling. Charlie yelled, “ Not funny Chandu. And by the way how many times?”. Ireplied, ” Three da. He had no clue. He freaked out and I think he wet his pants”. We burst out laughing. Charlie suddenly looked at me, his eyes gleaming, and asked me, ” Chandu can I try it please?”. I dint utter a word, I removed the gadget and handed it over to Charlie.
We stopped at Bessy Beach opposite to Barista. Charlie looked at me and asked, ” Chandu i gave him four and for the record, I beat you to it!!”, He continued asking, “How did you get this da, Chandu?”. I replied, ” I don’t know machi, it was lying next to me on my bed when I woke up this morning. And I think this is the case of Vanishing Man a.k.a Vancheeyanaethan”.